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Ukraine's new president vows to 'preserve the unity of the nation'

The newly elected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko took the oath of office on Saturday in Kiev and delivered a powerful inauguration speech.

By JC Finley
1/7
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko greets people after the inauguration ceremony in Sophia Square in Kiev on June 7, 2014. (UPI/Ivan Vakolenko) | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/0a5c6899e15a74b39024828dacc66f4e/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko greets people after the inauguration ceremony in Sophia Square in Kiev on June 7, 2014. (UPI/Ivan Vakolenko) | License Photo

KIEV, Ukraine, June 7 (UPI) -- Petro Poroshenko was sworn in as the new president of Ukraine on Saturday during a morning filled with inauguration festivities, and hope for the future.

The pro-European Poroshenko delivered a powerful inauguration speech, declaring "I am coming to the president's post to preserve the unity of the nation... I don't want war, I don't strive for revenge even though before my eyes are the victims suffered by the Ukrainian people. I want peace." At those words, many senior officials stood and broke into applause.

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"Ukraine is diverse but it is united by spirit," the president said, asserting that both Crimea and eastern Ukraine are, and will remain, part of Ukraine. Poroshenko noted that he had spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin about this.

"Yesterday in the course of the meeting in Normandy [for D-Day observances], I told this to President Putin: Crimea is Ukraine soil. Period. There can be no compromise on the issues of Crimea, European choice and state structure."

The new president called for an immediate end to hostilities in the restful eastern region. He urged rebels to lay down their weapons and promised amnesty to those who do not "have blood on their hands." Russian mercenaries, he said, would be allowed to return to Russia.

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Addressing residents of Ukraine's eastern Donbas region in Russian, their dominant language, he promised that he would visit the region "with peace, with a project of government decentralization, with a guarantee of free usage of Russian language in your region, with the strong intention not to divide people into right and wrong Ukrainians, with respect for the specifics of regions, for the right of local communities to their peculiarities in the issues of historic memory, pantheon of heroes, religious traditions."

Poroshenko also promised to bring Ukraine into the European Union by soon signing the political and economic agreements that deposed President Viktor Yanuovych, pressured by Russia, had rebuffed, leading to the civil unrest that eventually brought about an interim government. "My pen is in my hands," he told the nation, adding that "European democracy for me is the best form of government invented by mankind."

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Poroshenko, a 48 year-old billionaire chocolate magnate, won the May 25 presidential election. He previously served in Ukraine's parliament. In the Yanukovych administration, Poroshenko was the trade and economics minister and under President Viktor Yushchenko, he was the foreign minister.

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